With that however, I have an interesting topic. (I hope)
I am 30 (almost 31), I played with G.I. Joes as a kid, and well, really any military themed toy I could get my hands on (Micro machines, Flying Fighters, Transformers, LEGO’s etc), I also really enjoyed Emergency Equipment based things (Fire trucks etc), since my Dad was a firefighter.
I LOVED playing with toys! What kid didn’t in the 1980’s?
I grew up on a street where the only other kid my age was a girl 1 year older than I was and after about age 9 we stopped really seeing ‘eye to eye’ (physically.. she got TALL, and mentally-boy vs girl mentality). So without a lot (read: any) friends to play with on a regular basis, I had toys, pets and cartoons (and occasionally watching Dallas with Mom) to entertain myself with.
I played the HECK out of my toys, I can not remember a better morning/afternoon than sitting on our little window hutch with a big ol’ box of LEGO’s and building a totally unique, yet kick-ass, castle for my little Knights. Then leaving it up for a week or so and then rebuild it anew next weekend. I always tried to match the pictures on the pamphlets, since we could never afford the huge castle sets, but I never could make it JUST right! The ability to take all-sorts of different sets and combine them was such a great feeling, it let you customize things to your hearts content.
Playing with G.I. Joes was the same way, I’d go to my room and pull them all out, get them geared up and in vehicles and have huge, world-altering battles.. and then have it all wrapped up by dinnertime (maybe bedtime..). I never got a lot of everything, but I always appreciated what I got. Without the Internet I had no idea of what toys were out there (going to the Toy Store was a rare trip!), I got most of my information from the little advertisements they packed inside the boxes. I remember going to a friends house and saw that he had the G.I. Joe APC and I thought that was the COOLEST thing I had ever seen!
Now that some background is out of the way, here is the meat of my topic (still there?)…
In the early 90’s I got a Sega Genesis and, man, Sonic the Hedgehog was the best thing since sliced crack. I played the HECK out of that game, and in the process my love of toys started to erode. I still played with them, but I always wanted to play on the Genesis more.
Flash forward 20 years, many video game machines and a quality re-release of G.I. Joe later and, for me, things have really come full circle.
I’ve been a HUGE video-gamer ever since Sonic, I have owned pretty much every gaming system from the early 90’s till now. I was a big PC gamer for a while (still am, kinda) and even played some MMORPG’s (Damn you World of Warcraft!). I love me the games, offline-online-anyline! I think I spent the better part of my 20’s attached to a monitor or TV or something. LAN parties were the best.. you could be social AND play games.. what a concept (Yep, I’m a nerd).
So the other day, my buddies were asking why I hadn’t been on Xbox LIVE for a month or so.. It hadn’t occurred to me that I never sign on anymore, I never even turn the damn thing on! I’ve been using all my free time to work on some G.I. Joe/1:18th scale customs I’ve had in the works for what seems like years now. I’ve played a few games here and there, but nothing like I used to (I’d be on Xbox LIVE every night till 1 AM!.. Call of Duty BABY!).
I was driving somewhere thinking about this and I had a sudden epiphany.. “playing with toys” is actually more fun than playing video games.
WHOA! Stop right there! I must be going crazy. EVERYONE knows that kids these days love the video games, and toys are on their way out. BABIES play with toys, right? RIGHT!
But I realized, toys bring joys, while video games often lead to frustration and anger.
This is not an anti-video-game or anti-violence rant by any means, I still do (and will) play video games, but I couldn’t help but realize that in the course of playing pretty much any video game, you will die.. or miss something, or do something wrong, and you will suffer various levels of frustration or anger. I know in Call of Duty when I keep getting ‘noob ‘toob’d I sure get angry. The payoff for video games is when you are doing good, you feel good, and you can marvel at your stats till the cows come home. The competitive nature of online gaming is certainly attractive, but I felt that was all it became, making sure I was better than everyone else. When I did poorly, it was stressful, and I ceased having a good time.
I feel that toys are a more simple joy, you use your imagination and it makes you happy. Sure, if a custom doesn’t turn out the way you want it’s disappointing, but that’s not a design flaw in the toy, it’s your sorry excuse for talent. You always have the ability to keep working on things, making them better, learning new things. All of this applies to video games as well, but it seems like at the end of the day all you have left is some stats, whereas if you setup a diorama or create a custom.. that can last forever.
Anyways.. if you read all of this, thank you.. and let me know what you think about the Joys of Toys.